The offline question for today is about Binders…
You’ve shown that Eclipse can readily duplicate the Binder – but Binder’s are a pre-Pathfinder Tier-3 (barring the GM allowing some really broken Vestige) class. Given that, shouldn’t Eclipse be able to build cheaper equivalents of their various abilities so that there are points available for a few improvements? And couldn’t there be a point buy method of building Vestiges?
The answer to that, is “Yes, of course”. Given the fact that each Vestige-equivalent will also be a compact power-package, and those are always useful to people building characters, it’s also “Yes I will”. While there will likely be somewhat less “unlimited use” stuff, save for some out-of-combat shenanigans (which are pretty commonly abusive) “unlimited use” at the usual “once every five rounds” is very rarely going to actually amount to more than twice per encounter, making a dozen or more uses per day pretty much equivalent to “infinite” as far as most games go.
Now Binding is supposed to be easy magic, often used by people with very little formal training. That’s a defining characteristic of the Witchcraft system in Eclipse, so I’ll be using that for a lot of the basic package. So let us build ourselves a Bokor.
Basic Bokor Package (24 CP).
Witchcraft, Specialized and Corrupted: All effects require gestures, incantations, and a spell component pouch to work, involve invoking strange beings, have ominous and disturbing “special effects”, cause the user to display obvious physical stigmata related to the entities that he or she invokes (these also reveal some of their current powers to the knowledgeable), and provoke rather strong reactions in people. Bokor are generally regarded with great suspicion by Clerics and similar characters given that they call on strange and unreliable beings – some of them beyond the influence of the gods themselves.
- Witchcraft II. Provides the use of fairly minor Glamour (telepathic projection, Producing L0 effects for 1 Power and L1 effects for 2 Power), Hand of Shadows (telekinetic and animation effects, 1 power for L0 effects, 2 Power for L1 effects), and Shadowweave (light and illusion, 1 Power for 10 minutes of activity) effects with a base range of 30 feet, a base Power score equal to (Sum of Physical Attributes/3), and a base Will save DC of (13 + Cha Mod) (4 CP):
- +2d6 Mana, taken as 6d6 Power. Only usable for Witchcraft (4 CP).
- Dismissal (2 CP). The user may attempt to banish residual or active magic and either damage or attempt to dismiss outsiders.
- The Sight (2 CP). The user may obtain vague omens of the future, locate paths, employ clairsentience, and locate thieves of his or her personal goods.
- Divination (2 CP). The user may produce various Detection and True Seeing effects.
- Host of Mysteries: Ridden by the Loa with Firm Control (6 CP). This normally allows the user to host a spirit which can influence him or her in various ways while granting a temporary template of up to +4 ECL – but this build restricts that quite a bit:
- The total template value may be no more than +1 ECL (32 CP) per six levels or part thereof that the Bokor possesses.
- Each +1 ECL represents a separate Mystery – an individual entity.
- Users only know how to invoke one Mystery per applicable (innate and permanent – skill points and feats that provide bonuses only) rank of Knowledge/Arcana.
- The user may only take on (Cha Mod) Mystery templates per day.
- Channeling a Mystery requires a summoning ritual requiring 1d4 minutes.
- Mysteries remain bound to the summoner for twenty-four hours unless they are ritually expelled – a process that also requires a full minute.
- Each Mystery brings along a set of behavioral tendencies, a physical sign, and at least one disadvantage – although that does increase their net “value” to 35 CP.
- Mysteries may be assigned “levels” by the game master; if the game master opts to do so the Bokor can only call upon Mysteries with a level less than (Bokor Level / 2, Rounded Up). In general, Mysteries come in levels one through eight.
- Immunity/the one-point-per-hour cost of keeping Ridden by the Loa Running (Common, Minor, Major (up to 30 Power/Day equivalent, Corrupted/cannot normally be turned off to get rid of a batch of inconvenient Mysteries, 4 CP).
As a note, you could also just purchase +2d6 Mana, taken as 6d6 Power, only usable to keep Mysteries bound, automatically spends itself whether the user likes it or not (4 CP) – but the immunity approach is more elegant.
That package provides some versatile minor “spellcasting”, the ability to cast out spirits, some fairly potent divinatory abilities, and the ability to channel Mysteries – taking on a variety of specialized power packages. This extra magical power does come at a cost though; there won’t be quite enough points left to duplicate the rest of the first level Binder build; 1d8 HP (4 CP), 8 + (4 x Int Mod) SP (8 CP), Proficient with Simple Weapons and Light Armor (6 CP), Saves +4 (+2 Fort, +2 Will, 12 CP). That costs a total of 30 CP, and the Bokor only has twenty-four left. Our Bokor will either have to chop out 6 CP worth of abilities (I’d drop one of the saves and buy it up later), take a few disadvantages for extra points, or spend their first level feat on it (although I’d recommend Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect instead. It’s much more useful later on).
Later levels have a base cost of only (4 CP for BAB, 4 CP for a d8 HD, 2 CP for 2 SP, and 5 CP for Saves (somewhat more than is really needed actually) – leaving 9 CP / Level for Extra Power, Witchcraft improvements, special defenses, and whatever else comes to mind. Most commonly that will include a secondary power package:
Secondary Power Package: Initiate of the Mysteries
(21 CP at full cost, may be purchased in segments with a minimum starting cost of 5 CP).
Some Bokor learn to draw extra power from the Mysteries linked to their spirits. Innate Enchantment: Specialized and Corrupted: Only one effect per Mystery currently hosted can be activated, with the choice made when the Mystery is summoned, all effects Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Personal-Only where relevant (x.7). 10,400 GP net value, for a base cost of eleven CP and a final cost of (4 CP).
- Aura of Light/Darkness (Practical Enchanter); +1 Sacred/Profane bonus to Saves (1400 GP).
- Flesh Ward (Practical Enchanter); Provides DR 2/- (1400 GP).
- Immortal Vigor I: Provides +(12 + 2 x Con Mod) Extra Hit Points (1400 GP).
- Resist Energy (SRD): Provides Energy Resistance 10 versus any one of acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic damage (1400 GP).
- Sign (SC): +4 Insight Bonus to Initiative (Already personal-only, so 2000 GP)
- Ward of Light/Darkness (Practical Enchanter); +1 Sacred/Profane bonus to AC (1400 GP).
- Wrath of Heaven/The Infernal (Practical Enchanter); +1 Sacred/Profane bonus to Attacks and Damage (1400 GP).
Note that, at higher levels, a Bokor may pay an additional 3 CP to allow selecting the same effect twice to make it double effect. A further 4 CP will allow the same selection to be made three times for triple effect.
- Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Major, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects innate enchantments that provide personal augmentations, 9 CP).
- Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial [only covers first level effects at caster level one], Specialized/only to cover initial racial abilities, 1 CP).
The original Binder also got the ability to conceal the signs of channeling a Mystery (just use a small Illusion, possibly with an upgrade to make it less costly to keep it going), Immunity to Mind-Affecting Abilities (the Adamant Will would work best here), three bonus feats, and immunity to Energy Drain and Negative Levels (a decent Immunity). Not too surprisingly, even if you want all of that as-is… in Eclipse that leaves quite a lot of character points left over to buy other improvements.
So lets build some Mysteries.
Amon, The Burning Darkness (32 CP +3 CP Disadvantage/Accursed. Amon’s mere presence leads to political turmoil, the enabling of bad decisions, and ill-judged lust. The game master should refrain from pointing out obvious problems with player plans and proposals when Amon is being channeled and have NPC’s behave (in-)appropriately) (-3 CP).
Amon hails from the Ars Geotia, wherein he knows the past and future, enables pacts, aids in finding love, and reconciles friends and foes. He may or may not be an Egyptian sun-god sneaking into a new pantheon in disguise. According to Wizards of the Coast he grants darkvision, fire breath, and horns you can ram people with.
That’s… not especially impressive. Sure, the flame breath is useful enough, but a lot of characters will already have Darkvision – and being able to ram things with your head isn’t very impressive. Thus I think that I can improve on this particular one-trick pony.
Touch of the Corona / Innate Enchantment: (11 CP). All at Spell Level One, Caster Level One.
- Blades Of Fire: +1d8 Fire Damage to your melee attacks (2000 GP).
- Claws of the Bear (Variant: Ram’s Horns, when charging may use both “claws” as a single attack if you’re willing to ram your head into your target) (2000 GP).
- Embrace The Wild: +2 to Listen and Spot, Gain Low-Light Vision and either Blindsense out to 30′ or Scent (chosen when the Mystery is summoned) (2000 GP).
- Mending: You may repair objects with a touch, but only those which were created with the use of flame (metal, glass, fire-tempered wood, etc) (1000 GP).
- Resist Energy, Fire Only (x.5), Personal Only (x.7) (700 GP). You gain Resistance to Fire 10.
- Lesser Orb of Fire (2000 GP).
Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
The Fires of Amon:
- Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
- Witchfire/The Burning Breath: Fire Generation Only, only usable once every five rounds, Limited to (Level +1) dice up to the maximum (3d8 or 9d6), if targeting a “Small Area” it may be up to a 10′ radius or a 50′ line (6 CP).
- Hyloka/Burning Blood: Those hosting Amon may spend 1 Power when called on to make a save against poison to automatically succeed, burning it away in a burst of flame.
- Witchsight/Burning Eyes: Darksight. For one power/hour anyone hosting Amon can see as it if everything was illuminated by full daylight, regardless of natural or magical darkness.
- Elfshot/The Burning Word: You can spend one power to cause a target to burst into flames. They will take 1d6 fire damage regardless of the initial save, and may extinguish the fire normally – but if the initial save failed the victim must save again each round for one round per level of the user or re-ignite for another 1d6 damage.
- +4d6 Mana as 12d6 (42) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Fires of Amon, above (8 CP).
- Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable between encounters to regain the Fires of Amon Power Pool, above (6 CP).
Amon from the Tome of Magic is generally regarded as a bit below average. Here, of course, he’s had a notable upgrade; while the maximum damage on his Fire Breath has been reduced from ten dice to nine dice, this version offers many more abilities. They may not all be “Unlimited Use”, but they should be unlimited enough for most games.
Aym, Master of War (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage/Aym utterly lacks social graces, and shares much of that problem with those who invoke her. Those channeling Aym suffer a -2 penalty on all Charisma-linked skill checks).
Aym is another resident of the Ars Geotia, wherein he “sets cities, castles and great places on fire, makes men witty in all ways, and gives true answers concerning private matters.“ So he’s an arsonist, a repartee coach, and a spy. Ergo, in this case, Aym is a master of the elemental arts of war – granting access to sixteen Elemental Stances, and allowing her Channeler to use up to four of them at a time. (A Stance is simply a combat boost – in these cases 6 CP worth – Specialized and Corrupted since the user may use only one-quarter of them at a time).
Skill Specialties: Tactics, Logistics, and Military Organization (3 CP).
- Avalanche Strike: Augmented Attack/+2d6 (taken as +5) Damage to overcome Damage Reduction and Hardness Only
- Cutting Wind: Evasive (Sunder) and Specialist (Sunder) (2 CP).
- Earthwalk: Immunity/Speed Reductions due to wearing Armor (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2 CP).
- Flowing Water: Opportunist/Each time the user makes an attack, he or she may also take a 5′ step (2 CP).
- Heart of Fire: Immunity/attribute drain or damage (Common, Severe, Minor). Ignore the first two points of attribute damage from any attack, disease, or toxin.
- Heart of Water: Innate Enchantment/all Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Personal Only (x.7), Three times per day each (x.6): Lesser Restoration, Relieve Illness, Relieve Poison, Remove Paralysis, and Remove Fear (4200 GP) plus the effects of a Healing Belt (3 Uses/Day, spend 1/2/3 to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8, 750 GP). It’s kind of cheesy to shove this in under Stances, but 4 CP worth of cheese is barely enough to put on a cracker. And yes, you can use remove paralysis on yourself while you’re paralyzed (2 CP).
- Ice Mirror Kata: Gain the Favored Enemy Ability. The bonuses must be allotted when Aym is summoned however.
- Lashing Branch: Opportunist/5′ steps and withdrawals provoke AOO before they’re taken (2 CP).
- Leaping Fire: Presence/those who strike the user with melee weapons from within a ten foot radius are struck by a fire-based version of Shocking Grasp cast at the user’s level (2 CP).
- Read the Winds: Gain Blind Fighting (2 CP).
- Stony Pillar: DR 3/-, Specialized for double effect (6/-)/only against physical attacks (2 CP).
- Ten Ton Strike: Gain Enhanced Strike / Crushing Blow
- The Fires Within: Immunity to Fire (Common, Major, Minor (12 Points), 2 CP).
- Thunderbolt Strike: Augmented Attack/+2d6 (taken as +5) Damage to overcome Damage Reduction and Hardness Only (this stacks with Avalanche Strike).
- Venom of the Earth: Double Damage versus Objects (2 CP).
- Wind Blowing: Shaping/Specialized and Corrupted for Increase Effect (Only to generate force-disk “stepping stones” under the user’s feet, allowing him or her to run around up to five feet above a surface, ignore difficult terrain and minor obstacles, and find firm footing “on” ropes, ledges, and similar. Unfortunately, maintaining the effect is distracting enough to inflict a -2 penalty on the user’s attacks (2 CP).
The Tome Of Magic version of Aym is generally regarded as rather sucky. After all, the big plan with that version of Aym is “destroy the stuff we want to steal!” and a 1d6 fire aura which does not scale at all. This version can do everything that that version does as well or better, and offers an enormous array of alternative combat stances for the summoner to use.
Otzi, the Elder Archer (32 CP +3 CP Disadvantage/Compulsive; the Master Archer is chivalrous, and will push channelers to rescuing the women and children, champion the innocent, and so on): This one is not, so far as I can see, from the Ars Geotia – but after you pull out the names (and the origin story implying that the Elven gods are humorless, snobbish, bastards on the level of the worst of the Greek pantheon) all you really have is a generically good archer – an Archetype that goes back a very long ways indeed. Ergo I’ve named this one for one of the earliest specifically known archers.
- Immunity to Trivial Expenses, Specialized and Corrupted/ammunition only (Common, Minor, Trivial, may ignore the need for ammunition costing up to 5 GP/Shot, 2 CP). This suffices to cover most of the non-magical variant arrows.
- Imbuement (Bows) (6 CP). This isn’t enough on it’s own, but if you’re channeling the Master Archer a lot you’ll probably get a decent bow to start with.
- Immunity to the Penalties for Firing into Melee: Common/Minor effect/Minor resistance (4 CP).
- Innate Enchantment: (8500 GP Value, rounded to 9 CP).
- Composite Longbow (100 GP). If you don’t actually have a better bow, you automatically get to act like you have a basic one. You don’t really (although you will look like it), but it’s close enough for “Adjust Bow” (below) and the other bow-related abilities to work just fine.
- Master’s Touch, Only applies to Bows (x.5, 1000 GP). Anyone channeling the Archer is automatically proficient with Bows.
- Arrow Mind: You threaten squares within your normal reach with your bow and may fire arrows without provoking AOO (2000 GP).
- Guided Shot: Your ranged attacks do not take range penalties and ignore the AC bonus granted by anything less than total cover. This does, however, require a Swift Action on each turn that you use it (2000 GP).
- Gravity Bow: Your arrows do damage as if they were one size larger (2000 GP). That will usually be 2d6 for a medium-sized archer.
- Weapon Mastery/Composite Longbow: +4 Competence Bonus to BAB with Composite Longbow (Personal-Only, 1400 GP). Yes, this will add to iterative attacks.
- Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
- Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / each of the four basic witchcraft abilities granted is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect, often with additional limitations (6 CP).
- Hand of Shadows / Animate Arrows. Spend 1 Power as a swift action, for one minute per level your arrows can perform a combat maneuver (choice of Bull Rush, Disarm, Dirty Trick, Grapple, Steal, Sunder, or Trip) instead of inflicting damage when they hit. Use your rolls, but replace (Str Mod) with (Dex Mod).
- Hyloka/Zen Archery: You may spend 1 Power as a swift action to swap some (up to Level + 3) of your skill points into a bow-based martial art for an hour. This is a bit of a stretch for Hyloka – but then Specialized and Corrupted covers quite a bit of stretching.
- Witchfire/Adjust Bow: You may spend 1 Power as a standard action to “customize” a bow for the next 24 hours – adjusting it to suit your strength and grip. You may apply your (Str Mod) to the bows damage.
- Shadowweave/Sniper’s Step: The user gains a +10 bonus to Stealth (Hide, Move Silently) skills at no cost. The user’s position is not automatically revealed when firing arrows, and the +10 also applies against checks to spot where arrows are being fired from.
- +2d6 Mana as 6d6 (21) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the four effects above (4 CP).
As might be expected with an initial design popularly described as “Terrible”, our Archer has had a considerable upgrade. With the ability to perform long-range combat maneuvers, take on a bow-based martial art for the duration, and several continuous archery-boosting spell effects, the user is actually going to be quite competent.
Naberius, the Whispering Sage (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive; must explain everything in great detail and depth to anyone who asks, thus cannot keep a secret when directly questioned).
Last up for our “level one” Mysteries we have Naberius (or Cerberus) – an emigrant from Greek mythology via the Ars Geotia. In that book he restored lost dignities and honors (or, in other sources, took them away) (presumably where the restoration of lost attributes came from), made men wise in the arts and sciences, and taught oratory and grace. Not bad for a three-headed guardian hound even if at least half the “demons” in the Ars Geotia also made men wise in various arts (evidently the desire to “get really good without talent, time expenditure, or hard work!” was pretty common then too). He’s also described as one of the best choices on the WOTC official 3.5 list – and not just among the level one choices. He’s the only top-rated choice in the first three levels of choices. To quote The Binder Handbook on him… “Naberius gives a host of good abilities, the only thing keeping him from destroying the mind of everyone who reads him with his amazingness is the fact that he’s incredibly niche and not generally useful day to day for most Binders.”
Ergo, if any of the first level Mysteries are going to have to be trimmed… it’s going to be The Whispering Sage here. He’ll probably fit in well enough though.
- Innate Enchantment (6 CP).
- Masterwork Tools: Thieves (Disable Device and Open Locks, 100 GP), Balance Pole (Balance, Jump, and Tumble, 150 GP), Power Suit and Mirror Sunglasses (Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, 150 GP), Dark Silk Clothing (Stealth or Hide/Move Silently, 100 GP), Spectacles and Hearing Horn (Perception or Hide/Move Silently, 100 GP), Magnifying Glass (Search, 50 GP), Grip Gloves (Climb, Slight of Hand, and Use Rope, 150 GP). Surgeon’s Tools (Heal, 50 GP), Flippers (Swim, 50 GP).
- Mental Library: Effectively Masterwork Tools for all eight Knowledges, Read Languages, Use Magic Device, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Survival, and Diplomacy (700 GP)
Traveler’s Anytool (250 GP): Counts as masterwork tools for most Craft and Profession skills.
- Alchemists Lab (500 GP): +2 on Craft/Alchemy checks.
- Skill Mastery (SL1/2 x CL1 x 2000 GP x.7 Personal Only = 700 GP): +1 Competence Bonus on all Skill Checks.
- Disguise Self: (2000 GP): +10 bonus on Disguise checks.
Naberius gets a boost here simply because he needed Innate Enchantment for Disguise Self – but then had 3000 GP more to spend. Ergo, this version winds up with a +2 Circumstance (Tools) bonus and a +1 Competence bonus on almost every skill. That’s hardly going to break a game – especially since most characters get tools for their skills anyway – but it can be convenient.
Immunity to Attribute Drain and Damage (Common, Major, Major), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Immunities to attribute damage and drain normally divide the resistance by five; so this is a base of six points, then increased to 18) / does not actually prevent the attribute loss; it merely allows the user to recover it at a greatly accelerated rate – “healing” one point of each damaged attribute per round, and one point in each drained attribute per hour (9 CP).
There’s a bit of a trim there – some attribute injuries may be so great that even Naberius will be unable to fully heal them – but how often are you confronted with something that drains more than eighteen points from an attribute in one shot?
- Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted/Skills Only, must be selected during the initial summoning and may not be changed thereafter. As part of a template, these six bonus skill points may be used to purchase any skill ranks desired (6 CP).
That covers actually taking six skills or becoming familiar with up to eighteen – which should be plenty. It also lets you invest all six in one skill if you really want to be good at something.
- Witchcraft/Advanced Glamour: Specialized and Corrupted/only two effects. The channeler may spend 1 power to either use Suggestion as a Supernatural Power for 1 Power or to gain a +12 Enhancement bonus on a Diplomacy or Bluff check as a Supernatural Power (3 CP). Unfortunately, neither may be used more than once every five rounds.
- +2d6 Mana as 6d6 (21) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the two Advanced Glamour abilities given above. (4 CP).
- Presence: Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: may only be used once every five rounds, requires a standard action, increased effect only extends the radius. This produces the effect of a Command spell against all enemies within 30 feet (6 CP).
- +1 to Speak Languages (Elder Runes, 1 CP).
Naberius actually fit in quite nicely; he got trimmed in a couple of spots – reducing two items from “unlimited use” to ten to twenty times a day, making his disguises dispellable, and limiting the maximum resistance to attribute damage and drain – but he picked up some cheap-and-minor skill bonuses in place of “unlimited use”. Overall, if you want to be a skillmaster or the party Face, there are much worse options – although you’ll have to attack people in some other way. He’s got no real direct combat powers to offer you at all.
Next time around on this it will be more Mysteries.